Deciding on your preferred method of childcare when returning to work is always going to be a tough decision to make. There are many choices available to working mothers including Nurseries, Child minders, Preschools and Nannies. We are going to discuss the option of hiring a nanny in more detail throughout this article.
Hiring a Nanny used to be purely the preserve of the Aristocracy or superrich. Thinking of a nanny tends to conjure up an image of either Mary Poppins or a strict, matronly like figure in a traditional starched uniform.
Modern Nannies are now much more commonplace amongst working families. Although hiring a nanny is the most expensive option when it comes to childcare, if you have more than one child the difference may not be as big as you think when you compare it with other available options.
What is a Nanny?
A Nanny is a qualified and/or experienced childcare professional employed to look after children within the employer’s home. Nannies are generally trained to provide care and educational development for children from birth to seven years.
Nannies can be either live in or out, permanent or temporary, and can have complete sole charge of the children or shared charge with the mother, father, grandparent or sometimes another Nanny.
A Nanny is a professional and is not paid to just ‘keep an eye’ on your nearest and dearest. Nanny duties include taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the children in her care, providing safe, stimulating, age appropriate activities, encouraging development, completing Nursery duties (such as children’s laundry, maintaining tidiness of children’s rooms and preparing children’s meals). A Nanny is not responsible for general household tasks.
How much does a Nanny cost?
Salaries vary, depending on whether the Nanny is live in or out, what qualifications/experience she holds etc.
Nannies will often quote in net salary which means the salary they will take home each hour/day/month. There is not really a pay scale and you can often find that a candidate will ask for a set rate per hour whether there is one child in her care or three.
As you would be the employer in this relationship you would be responsible for paying the Nannies tax and National Insurance contributions as well as employers NI. When setting out a contract it is always important to agree on a GROSS salary rather than Net. This will ensure that you are not liable for any further costs down the line should factors such as tax codes change.
In 2011 the average Nanny salary figures as according to the Nursery World Salary survey 2011 are as follows;
Daily (Live out)
South East £28,713
Other Areas £25,877
South East £28,713
Other Areas £25,877
When dealing with wages, it is a great idea to enrol the services of a payroll agency. They will act as your agent and do everything for you, from setting up a nanny PAYE scheme and calculating the correct tax and National Insurance payments, to making sure your nanny’s payslips are accurate.
It’s important to remember you are an employer, which means if the nanny is ill and cannot come to work, you will of course still be paying her. She also has the right to maternity leave, and redundancy pay after she has been in your continuous employment for over the legal amount of years.
If you would like your Nanny to drive as part of her job description you will either need to provide a car (which will need to be insured in the Nannies name) and fill this with petrol each week or, hire a Nanny who does not mind using her own car for work purposes – obviously it is the Nannies responsibility to ensure that the car is comprehensively insured for business use. If the Nanny does use her own car then she will make a note of the distance she has been travelling during working hours on a daily basis. This should then be added up either on a weekly or monthly basis and charged at a rate of 45 pence per mile.
Some nannies are happy to take the bus everywhere too.
Is a Nanny for me?
The benefits of hiring a Nanny are great. Obviously the Nanny will arrive at your home every day meaning your little ones will be cared for in their own home and you do not have to worry about dropping them off and collecting them. They get a standard of care that they would not necessarily receive in any other childcare facility in that they have the Nanny all to themselves (or share them with their brothers and sisters).
A nanny can come in when your children are ill, unlike in a nursery. However when the nanny herself is ill, you have to arrange for back-up.
A Nanny can be chosen with your family’s interests and personalities in mind and does not really have to stick to a set curriculum; she can plan the day with your little one in mind, taking them to swimming/football/activities/working on crafts at home. She will also take them to school, liaise with Teachers, shop for their food/clothing, help them with homework and music lessons and make Dr and Dentist appointments so you will not have to take time off from work. She will manage your childs agenda, and social life, thus creating peace of mind for you. Imagine someone reminding you of the parent-evening, and buying birthday presents for other children’s parties!
Nannying is very different to most jobs in that this person becomes very involved in your day-to-day life so it extremely important to discuss your expectations from the start, having regular reviews and encouraging your Nanny to speak out about any issues she may have. A great Nanny who fits in well with your family is hard to find so do remember this and treat her with respect and like any employee you would have in the office. Do check out more tips and ideas on keeping your nanny happy here.
What are the next stages?
When you have decided that hiring a Nanny is the most suitable option, you can either use an agency or recruit the Nanny yourself. A good agency will meet all candidates personally and check all their documents and references, they should also save you a lot of time by listening specifically to the personality you require and only send through suitable candidates.
If you decide to recruit independently then be sure to check that the Nanny has an enhanced CRB check, and up to date first Aid certificate (or is willing to undertake first aid training before starting the role, which is usually paid for by the employer) and has references to back up their work history. Even if you decide to source your Nanny through an agency I would advise that you speak with at least one referee, you can then have a ‘parent to parent’ chat and really get a feel for the how the candidate would work and if there are any weaknesses that you would want to be alerted to.
Recruiting a Nanny can take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months. I am often asked how long this process takes and liken the process to dating! You can meet a candidate with an excellent CV but if they do not fit in with your views, ideals and family life then the relationship will not work! Regularly it takes about 4-8 weeks at least, as most nannies need to work their notice period of 4-8 weeks at their previous job.
Once you have decided on a shortlist of candidates you would like to meet, I would advise on having an initial interview without the children around. If you are happy and would like to meet the candidate again then a second interview should be arranged. I would recommend using this as an opportunity to introduce the Nanny to the children and observe how she interacts and engages with them. Obviously the atmosphere will never be quite the same with so many adults around – the children can potentially act up – it is a good idea to spend some time together then perhaps hide upstairs where you can give the Nanny and children space to get to know each other but still hear what is going on.
Once you have decided on a candidate and they have accepted the role it is important to both sign a written agreement. Drawing up a contract at the beginning of a relationship with your nanny can save lots of problems later on. It is important to spend time thinking about what you expect from your Nanny so that you can set it all out in black and white thus avoiding any confusion. It is much easier to sort this out at the start with a written agreement and contract than to try and add duties and house rules later on when they might be resented. If you found your Nanny through an agency then they should have a standard contract they adapt for Clients. If not, there are plenty of templates to be found online.
It is important to have regular meetings or appraisals perhaps one a month, a Nanny will not necessarily be used to voicing her grievances and many candidates will keep things bottled up for months before mentioning them – this is a sure fire way of little issues turning into huge problems before the employer has even realised there is anything amiss! Telling your Nanny that you appreciate them regularly is a great thing to do, try not to take her for granted.
(Please note that throughout this article I have referred to the Nanny as being female. By no means is Nannying a female only profession, Male Nannies or ‘Mannies’ are now also extremely common.)
Author: Tanja Jelley of Mortimer Nannies. Tanja is a fully qualified Nanny and Maternity Nurse, Tanja now runs Mortimer Nannies, a Nanny agency placing Nannies and Childcare specialists throughout the UK and overseas. Mortimer Nannies also run Nanny and Parenting workshops and have organised childcare over the summer for festivals such as Vintage, Wilderness and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival.